As anticipation builds for the 2015 CWHL Draft, an exciting announcement only adds to the momentum. Marie-Philip Poulin, best known among Canadian sports fans for her gold-medal winning goals at the 2010 and the 2014 Winter Games has declared for the 2015 CWHL Draft, which shall take place on August 23.
Poised to be a first-round selection, the most unique aspect about Poulin’s decision to join the CWHL is that it shall not be her first season in the league. Of note, the native of Beauceville, Quebec first played for the league during its inaugural season in 2007-08.
At the tender age of 16, Poulin was more than just a teen phenom suiting up for the Stars. Having abandoned figure skating in order to emulate her older brother, Pier-Alexandre, and play hockey, it marked her first season away from home. Also sandwiching in seasons with Canada’s U18 program and Dawson College, Poulin exceeded expectations, displaying the skills that would make her a future superstar.
She finished the season as its leading scorer and the top scorer in the Eastern Conference. Despite playing in only 16 games (she missed almost a month as she competed in the inaugural IIHF U18 Women’s Worlds), she led the Stars with 22 goals and 43 points (ranking fourth in the league in both categories), while topping all players in the CWHL with 2.69 points per game. As a side note, she tied for the team lead in assists (21) with league co-founder Lisa-Marie Breton.
By season’s end, the accolades had piled up. In addition to winning the first-ever Most Outstanding Rookie Award, she was one of five Stars players (alongside Nathalie Dery, Leslie Oles, Kim St. Pierre and Katie Weatherston) named to the Eastern Conference All-Star Team. The only non-Stars player on the team was blueliner Lyne Landry from the Ottawa Capital Canucks.
Oles and Weatherston (who won a gold medal at the 2006 Torino Winter Games) would also join Poulin on the All-Rookie Team. As a side note, Swedish goaltender Cecilia Anderson (who earned silver in Torino) was also a member of the Stars during that inaugural season.
One of the most unique aspects of Poulin’s first season with the Stars was the fact that she set a league record which may never be broken. Along with blueliner (and eventual three-time Clarkson Cup champion) Nathalie Dery, the two combined for the two fastest goals in league history. Set on December 9, 2007, said goals were scored in the third period of a match against Ottawa.
Statistically, Poulin tied Jennifer Botterill for the most asssists in one game during the season with four. Once again, Ottawa was the victim of Poulin’s sensational playmaking abilities, as she accomplished the feat on October 14.
From the 23 of September until October 27, Poulin amassed 15 goals during a league-best eight game goal scoring streak. She would also contribute an exceptional 16-game scoring streak.
Poulin was one of several teenaged talents that suited up for the Stars during the inaugural CWHL season. Having graduated from the McGill Martlets in 2015, Oles was just 15 when she played alongside Poulin. They were joined by blueliner Lauriane Rougeau, only 16 when she first joined the Stars in 2007. All three would not only be recipients of the Montreal Canadiens scholarship program, they would all be teammates on the first-ever Clarkson Cup championship team in 2009.
Other teen phenoms included Veronique Laramee-Paquette, who also competed in the Red Bull Crashed Ice world championships, future Dartmouth scoring sensation Camille Dumais, Elizabeth Mantha (who would serve as an official at the 2014 Four Nations Cup), plus future Montreal Carabins stars Sophie Brault and Janique Duval.
The magic of Marie-Philip Poulin’s rookie CWHL season certainly means expectations shall remain high when Poulin returns for the league’s ninth season this autumn, it also translates into feelings of excitement and jubilation for its devoted fans.
Having accumulated 181 points at Boston University, where she graduated as its leading scorer, Poulin matured into more than just a superstar, but an exceptional ambassador for the game. It is a role that Poulin accepted with great pride and enthusiasm, earning the admiration of many fans and teammates alike.
While Poulin was mentored during her rookie season, this time, she shall be the one in the role of mentor. The 2014-15 season certainly displayed Poulin’s blossoming into a leader as she served as team captain for Boston University and for the Canadian contingent which skated away with silver at the 2015 IIHF Women’s Worlds in Malmo, Sweden.
Whichever team selects Poulin in the upcoming draft, they are not just selecting a first-line scorer, they are selecting a franchise player. For fans who were not there for the CWHL’s inaugural season, Poulin’s phenomenal rookie season holds the promise for the opportunity to see a world-class player who has only refined her skills while elevating herself to legendary status.
As the autumn of 2016 shall mark the beginning of its tenth anniversary season, it would only be fitting to have Poulin gracing CWHL ice, as she was among the first group of empowering women who helped to build the league and inspire young girls to believe that a league of their own was truly possible.
Photo credits: Boston University (Jackie Ricciardi)
At Sochi (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Montreal Stars, left to right: Katie Weatherston, Leslie Oles, Poulin (Richard Scott)